The planting plan for the site was dictated by the new house build, a challenging coastal site, and the owner's extensive art and sculpture collection.
The directive was to create a very simple planting theme on mass around a minimalist garden design and following some images I had shown the owners on a couple of my favourite landscape architects – Wolfgang Oehme and James Van Sweden – in which they combine herbaceous perennials and textural grasses on mass.
Our homeowner did not want a traditional native garden, nor a formal garden, nor any specific theme, and left it to us to design a planting palette that complemented her own existing house design and interior colours while taking into consideration the coastal site and the first images we had looked at.
It was also important to note that there is a bare section next door, and we needed to get some boundary screening along the fence line, but also keep views out to the harbour – a simple green screen of Griselinia Cobb solved that issue.
The planting design was put together as a combination of textural and screening natives blended with herbaceous perennials that add colour and interest, with specific plants designed around the numerous sculptures – like a mass of Atelia Westland under the white steel figurines, or the Senecio Angel Wings under the pottery hand sculpture.
The original planting plan has been altered as we have had to deal with plant availability plus as the sculptures arrived some plants have been designed around them.
We focused on combinations of colour and texture with blasts of colour like the blue-purple flowers from Geranium Rozanne mixed with the gold flowers of Rudbeckia Goldsturm, and then mixed with combinations of evergreens like Acacia Limelight, Agapanthus Tinkerbelle, Helictotrichon sempervirens, Lophomyrtus Red Dragon and Fragrant Rhododendron Princess Alice.
We had to deal with rock as this whole site is placed by and dug into the hill, so the east-side gardens are designed to hold the bank and filled with mainly natives while a section of rock is left exposed and cleaned to show what the site had been like.
The house has a cantilevered section and planting had to be designed around shade and no water, so shade-loving plants like Ligularia reniformis, Acanthus mollis, Clivia, Pachysandra, Ajuga, and the contrasting silver balls of Pittosporum Golf ball are working well, combined with irrigation.
The garden design is separated into two main areas – the drive and entrance areas, and the main internal gardens.
The entrance gardens are much simpler, as we did not want planting to take away the bold black structure of the building.
We also wanted to work with local Blackhead rock which is quarried around the corner, and this was placed almost in a Zen-like theme and planted with a simple planting of Lomandra Lime Tuff, Scleranthus uniflorus, and Hebe albicans – plus, to mimic the upright entrance letter sculpture, we used clusters of Pseudopanax Ferox.